Wednesday, May 26, 2010

How the Nats could beat Lincecum

Photo by Mark Zuckerman / NATS INSIDER
Nyjer Morgan needs to get on base for the Nats to have a chance tonight.
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Nationals may not face a stiffer challenge all season than they will tonight, with two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum on the mound for the Giants against rookie right-hander Luis Atilano. Lincecum is as good as anyone in the sport right now, and he enters this one with a 5-0 record, 2.35 ERA and a ridiculous 75 strikeouts in 61 1/3 innings. Atilano, meanwhile, has begun to look human after his out-of-nowhere arrival last month. He's allowed nine earned runs in his last 9 1/3 innings and has put 20 men on base during that span.

So we might as well write this one off, right? Well, maybe not. There's no such thing as a sure thing in baseball, where any team can legitimately beat any other team on any given night. Lincecum has taken the loss in 17 of his 99 career games. He's going to lose No. 18 eventually. Why not tonight?

So it's a bit implausible, but certainly not out of the realm of possibility. Here, then, are five reasons the Nats COULD win tonight's game...

1. The Nats own Tim Lincecum. OK, that may be exaggerating it a bit. The guy is a career 1-0 with a 1.77 ERA against Washington. But Lincecum did have a sub-par (by his lofty standards) outing against the Nationals last June, allowing four runs (two earned) on eight hits in 6 1/3 innings. The Nats proceeded to win that game 10-6 thanks to a late outburst against the Giants bullpen and a fine relief effort from Ron Villone.

2. Willie Harris owns Tim Lincecum. Again, a bit of an exaggeration. But Harris has had some success against "The Freak," going 3-for-10 with two doubles and a triple. That's a better track record than anyone else on the Nats roster. Note to Jim Riggleman: Play Willie tonight, and victory is assured.

3. Despite his overwhelming numbers so far, Lincecum has struggled lately. Did you see what he did last time out, against the Diamondbacks? Five runs on five hits and five walks in only five innings, his worst outing of the year. And his previous time before that, he also issued five walks. Clearly, the guy is trending downward and has seen his best days go by.

4. Lincecum doesn't hold runners on well. This is actually a legitimate point. Opposing baserunners are 8-for-8 in stolen-base attempts this season against Lincecum. If Nyjer Morgan can get on -- a big "if" considering the way he's played the last few weeks -- he's got an opportunity to wreak some havoc on the bases.

5. If Levale Speigner can beat Johan Santana, anything's possible. In five-plus seasons of Nationals baseball, there has never been a more lopsided pitching matchup than that gem from June 2007. The impossible happened that night in Minnesota. Who's to say it can't happen tonight in San Francisco?

(Editor's note: Anyone who believes the above was actual, legitimate analysis needs to get out more.)

14 comments:

N. Cognito said...

Side trip to Haight-Ashbury.
Now we know what Mark can do when he's on LSD. ;)

Mrs. Z. said...

Mark on LSD? Dream on...

Bowdenball said...

He's going to lose No. 18 eventually. Why not tonight?

It was cool the way your answered your own question in the picture accompanying your post.

Traveler8 said...

Also, as the song says, we've got heart! is reason # 6.

K.D. said...

Anyone can be beat, and the Giants haven't seen Atilano. Just have to believe!

Chris said...

I'd vote for "with a crowbar."

Bote Man said...

6. Food poisoning - the Nats should send over to the Giants a lunch buffet with day-old seafood, then wait for game time roster changes.

Sunshine_Bobby_Carpenter_Is_Too_Pessimistic_for_Me said...

Mark, I share your optimism, and my bong water needs changing too. I am really underwhelmed by the Giants' offense (and entire team, except for starting pitching, really) and they might not score more than two runs. Amazing Willie could get lucky with a couple of guys on base. Nationals, 3-2.

Hey, man, have you tried these little tabs? They're like far out, man.

upperdeck4 said...

Apparently there is nothing that cannot happen today-- Mark Twain

natsfan1a said...

um, is "With an Uggla Stick" an option? :-)

Granted, we're not the Phillies but I watched a game this year where they came back late against the SFO 'pen after the skipper had lifted Lincecum. hmmm, maybe it was the Phillies' judicious use of binos? :-D

natsfan1a said...

The game in question:

http://sports.yahoo.com/mlb/recap?gid=300428126

court said...

The MadDog has tweeted that SJS will debut against the Pirates, not the Reds. He's set up to pitch the 8th if he stays on a 5 day schedule. Ladson also says that the Nats will give 5 or 6 days notice.

So the team gets two sell-outs while only having to use SJS once... win-win-LOSE (for those of us with tix for the 4th)

Keith said...

From Bratislava - just listened to the last couple of innings. Mark - you were right!

Hendo said...

Am picturing Mrs. Z rolling her eyes as Mark bounces around the house all full of himself this morning. Nice call, btw.

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